‘What has been learned must “stick” in the mind’

Janto Schmidt, secondary school teacher at the German-English Phorms Taunus Campus, explains how he likes to inspire his students to learn
Illustration: Anja Riese | 2018/2

What is your background in teaching?
Janto Schmidt After passing both state examinations and spending several years teaching in state schools, I moved to Switzerland for six years and then to Mexico for another four. During this time, I taught German and sport to years 5 to 11. My educational experience finally brought me to the Phorms Taunus Campus, where I am currently teaching year 6, with 19 students. I want to inspire every student with my teaching, which is why a creative approach to teaching is very important to me.

What exactly do you mean by a creative approach to teaching?
For me, working creatively means I do not simply stand in front of the blackboard and mechanically recite things to the students that they then have to write down and memorise. I am far more concerned that the children interact, reflect on what they have learned and work things out themselves. I also try to incorporate the use of as many senses as possible in the lessons.

Why is it so important, in your opinion, that students have fun while learning?
After 15 years I have learned that the enthusiasm factor ensures that what has been learned ‘sticks’ in the mind. Up until now, not a single student has ‘slipped through my hands’, that is to say, failed to make the grade. So this ideology that ‘learning must be fun’ cannot be totally wrong.

Do you have an example of a creative approach to a teaching topic?
Yes – with reading, for example. We German teachers at the school organise a reading contest on 16 November followed by a reading night. Together with students from year 6, we all stay overnight and read stories, and tell each other ghost stories. Since the school is close to a small wood, we also considered going on a night-time ramble. The children are already looking forward to it; they have no inhibitions about reading aloud or opening a book for themselves and having some real fun.

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Photos: private